Journal de bord

Nicolas C. Solerieu, Designer

Technical debt

A definition:

Technical debt is a well known concept, if you don’t know about it, google it and you may have a Eureka kind of moment. Some dude explained it to me this way: “ Technical debt is the shit you need to clean when you have been rushing the job for too long”.

The facts:

In the tech world, this translate into 2 very distinct models: Startups accumulate a huge debt. This debt is a risk (hopefully a measured one) and creates a lot of instability but allow fast increment. Big tech corporation can’t afford risk, they invest regularly in refactoring their codebases and adjust their brand and material.

A story:

I spend first 2 years of my ‘career’ building wordpress websites for small businesses and institutions. Wordpress made sense for multiple reason that you probably know. Then I moved to San Francisco and discovered the startup model. Our stack is massive and it takes a lot of young people’s energy to maintain it. Sometimes it crashes and we never get the resources to refactor. And when we do we migrate from something that will only last for 6months. Then we’ll have to hire more new engineer to transition to react, vue.js or whatever is the new big thing.

Same goes with design. Growth goals pushes design to its limit. Every quarter goals are changing, the design focus switch. New project comes. When the brand and products needs to evolve, only the minimum is approved and nobody really understand the value of design. The team can decide to advocate, communicate and improve the brand but you’ll probably never get.

Of course that’s what it takes to push technology forward and create successful business that disrupt industries. This is what every manager will tel you, and it’s objectively true. Today I listened to that speech for the third time.

Silver lining:

Rush it and burn out or be smart and invest in the future. This way it sound like a no brainer but for most tech startup it’s a real dilemma.

This may be the dumbest piece you’ve ever read if you are into the tech world. I needed to put this somewhere.